Shillong, Jan 14: The Meghalaya High Court on Jan 13 directed the state government to bring suitable and comprehensive legislation to settle all controversies with the office of the traditional village chiefs and also to bring it under the purview of Right to Information (RTI) Act.
It appears that there is no uniformity in respect of customary laws, practises and usages and provisions of law enacted by Autonomous District Councils, Chief Justice Uma Nath Singh said in a judgement while disposing of a writ petition.
There should be some common qualifications and eligibility criteria for contesting election to the office of Headman, and also regarding the term of office, the remuneration to be paid and the nature of duties, the judgement said.
The court has also directed that the office of the Headman also needs to be brought within the purview of Right to Information Act considering that such institution acts as a tool of governance at the grassroot level and is also being assigned an important role in implementing various programmes and schemes of the central and state governments.
Directing the authorities to frame necessary rules in this regard, the judgement also ordered the state government to include the Headman in the definition of a public servant.
Moreover, the court directed, the state government should also ensure that no person with anti-national and criminal background is allowed to contest the election.